Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 1979. Walt Disney Productions. Story by Jeb Rosebrook, Bob Barbash, Richard H. Landau, Screenplay by Jeb Rosebrook, Gerry Day. Cinematography by Frank V. Phillips. Produced by Ron Miller. Music by John Barry. Production Design by Peter Ellenshaw. Costume Design by Bill Thomas. Film Editing by G. Gregg McLaughlin. Academy Awards 1979.
Disney enters the space race after the success of Star Wars has studios scrambling to get their own intergalactic projects into theatres and take advantage of the genre’s popularity. A crew aboard a spaceship encounter a craft long thought lost that is parked somewhere near a massive black hole. When they go aboard they find a mad scientist (Maximilian Schell) who has every intention of entering the eye of the dark storm in order to discover its secrets. The crew is skeptical about the safety of this operation, but when they also discover the dark secret of the many robots staffing Schell’s ship, they become even more worried about their own well-being. The Mouse House puts a great deal of effort into pulling off the technical wizardry of this admittedly very beautiful film: the cinematography and production design are gorgeous, including effects that still look great, while John Barry contributes a rich and effective musical score. The script couldn’t possibly be paler though, an impressive cast (including Anthony Perkins, Ernest Borgnine and Yvette Mimieux) wasted on washed out characters put through dull situations that have no bite thanks to the filmmakers wanting to make sure not to alienate their youngest audience members. It has some appeal as seventies kitsch, though.